Finding the right floors for your home can be overwhelming. First, there are literally hundreds of choices out there. Second—and perhaps more important—many factors will determine the best flooring for you. Flooring varies widely by budget, durability, special features, and of course, appearance. You may have an idea of what you want your room to look like, but choosing the exact flooring to use can be complicated, to say the least. So here’s what you need to know to find the right floors for your home.
Set Your Budget
Aside from any other feature of your flooring, the most significant factor in the flooring you ultimately select will be your budget. There are hundreds of options out there, but not every option is available in every price range. If you know how much you have to spend, you can make an informed choice upfront. The last thing you want is to fall in love with a type of flooring only to find that it won’t fit in your budget. So before you start looking at any other feature, here’s what you can expect in each price bracket.
Low Budget - $2.00 or Less Per Square Foot
If you have a large space to cover or just don’t have a lot to spend, budget flooring can be the perfect solution. But low-budget doesn’t have to mean low quality. If you spend wisely, you can get very nice floors even in the lowest price bracket. The most significant factor in this price bracket is the type of material. You are not going to get hardwood or marble floors for under $2.00 a square foot, but there are plenty of good choices out there.
One obvious choice in this price range is vinyl flooring. There was a time when vinyl flooring was synonymous with low-quality, but that is no longer the case. Many modern vinyl floors hit the sweet spot between price, looks, and durability. Vinyl flooring can last for decades, and the choices for style are nearly endless. You won’t find luxury vinyl products in this range, but you will find many different styles in both sheets and tiles.
You can also find some laminates in this price range. Again, they won’t be the top-of-the-line models, but they will still be durable good-looking floors. Many bargain laminate flooring lines offer a wood look that may not fool you if you take a close look but can nevertheless provide a beautiful floor at a value price.
If you’re interested in tile, you’re in luck. You can find a wide variety of ceramic and porcelain tile in this price range. However, you need to be careful about choosing tile if you are trying to stretch a small budget. While the materials are cheap, the installation can be pricey. Laying tile requires a lot of labor, and while you could do it yourself, it won’t look like a professional job. Professional installation will give excellent results, but it is a labor-intensive process.
Mid-Range - $2.00 to $5.00 Per Square Foot
If you can spend in this range, you will find plenty of high-quality options. While you can find bargain options for vinyl and laminate, the idle price range is where you will find higher quality versions of those products. And in this price range, you can also start to consider hardwood and engineered wood floors.
At two to five dollars a square foot, you can get some luxury vinyl products. Most people associate vinyl with cheap floors, but luxury vinyl combines the durability features of vinyl with the looks of a high-end product. Vinyl is desirable in no small part for its low maintenance and high durability, and especially the fact that it is virtually waterproof. In this price range, you can get the benefits of vinyl with a floor that won’t remind you of a cheap mid-century kitchen floor.
If you are considering laminate floors, this is where you should be with your budget. Spending two to five dollars a square foot on laminate flooring will get you a high-quality product that looks much more like wood than the bargain version. Laminate is also desirable for its high durability. While it’s not as low-maintenance and waterproof as vinyl, it is highly water and scratch-resistant.
In this price range, you can begin to consider genuine hardwood. You can get some reasonable domestic hardwoods, and good quality engineered wood flooring, such as ash, birch, maple, and oak. While you won’t find luxury imported hardwoods, you can still get a very high-quality wood floor with domestic varieties. Engineered wood can look just like hardwood with some added durability.
High-End - $5.00 or More Per Square Foot
If you are ready to spend five dollars or more per square foot, you can get some luxury flooring. This is what you need to spend to get harder and rarer imported hardwoods, including kempas, ipe, Brazilian cherry, and mahogany. You can also get luxury laminate that has all the durability benefits of laminate with a nearly indistinguishable wood look. There is also luxury vinyl in this price range that combines durability with a luxury appearance.
Determine Your Needs
In addition to matching your budget, the right flooring for your home will have the qualities and characteristics you need. If you need a floor for a high-traffic area with kids and pets, there’s no sense in installing a fragile floor that requires gentle use. Below you will find some of the common characteristics homeowners look for, and which types of flooring are best suited to meet those needs.
If you have a high moisture environment, typically a bathroom or laundry room, it is critical that you install flooring suited for that environment. Installing something like most hardwood flooring would be a disaster. The moisture would damage the flooring, and you would have neither the look nor the functionality you desire. For high-moisture environments, vinyl is king. Tile is also a classic material for bathrooms and sometimes kitchens due to its high water resistance. Some types of stone flooring are also highly functional in wet environments, though they tend to be on the higher end of the price scale.
Pet (and Kid) Friendly
If you have a high energy family, especially with kids or pets, you need a floor that is exceptionally durable. Scratches and spills can damage some floors, and others are hard to clean. For a flor that can stand up to whatever you throw at it, you have a few options.
Vinyl, as always, is great at repelling accidental spills. However, it can dent or scratch. Ceramic and porcelain tile are water and scratch-resistant. However, they can be slippery when wet and may not be suitable for every area of your home. Laminate flooring is mostly scratch and water-resistant, though you can’t let water or spills sit on the flooring for too long. To clean a laminate floor, you should use a damp mop or a spray mop like a Swiffer Wet Jet, but never a wet mop. Plank vinyl can give a wood look with superior durability. And while it can get dirty over time, high-quality wall-to-wall carpeting can take quite a beating, it will never scratch or dent, and it feels good on little feet.
If you’re looking for a floor that will require as little maintenance as possible, you can rule out certain materials from the get-go. Hardwood, while highly desirable and always a good resale value is not low-maintenance. It needs to be resanded and refinished about every five years. The ultimate in low maintenance is vinyl flooring of any type. While some vinyl flooring may be considered cheap or low quality, that is no longer the case with newer luxury vinyl. Vinyl plank, for example, gives a realistic wood look with minimal maintenance and easy cleaning. Laminate comes in as a close second. It doesn’t need to be refinished or repaired, but it does require a little more care when you are cleaning it.
DIY vs. Professional Installation
If you plan to install your floors yourself, your selection of flooring is quite limited. While some flooring seems like it could be a DIY project, most types of flooring still look best when installed by professionals. If you really want to install your own floors, your best bet is to use a floating floor system. In a floating floor, the flooring components are not glued or otherwise attached to the subfloor. Instead, each piece is attached to the piece next to it. This flooring is the easiest for the average homeowner to install.
While you may find instructions online for DIY tiling, tiling is a specialized skill that is best left to the pros. It is very easy to do a lousy job, and you won’t get the look you were hoping for. Another potential DIY fail is sheet vinyl. While it seems simple to roll out a sheet, the truth can be a little more complicated. It is easy to roll out a sheet, but making sure there are no bumps, wrinkles, or bubbles can be frustratingly challenging. Instead, leave vinyl sheet installation to the pros.
Hardwood and engineered wood are both complicated and labor-intensive to install and not a project for your average homeowner. These flooring types require experienced craftspeople for a successful installation.
If you want to find the best flooring and the right people to install it, you’ve come to the right place. TrustDALE certified flooring specialists can help you select the perfect flooring for your home and then help you get it into your home and onto your floors. When you use TrustDALE flooring specialists, you are also covered by Dale’s trademark $10,000 Make-It-Right guarantee.